Nineteen years ago, on this very day, the Eastern United States was recovering from, and in some cases still battling through, the ’93 Superstorm. Blizzards and horrendous ice-storms fought with tornadoes and epic thunderstorms to see who could scour the human menace off the land.
When Shannon and I woke up in our studio apartment that day and looked out of our second story window, we were amazed at the destruction visible from a storm that we’d slept right through. There was no warning for this massive beast. It even took meteorologists by surprise, and nothing surprises those people.
Through the rainy, thundering aftermath from the worst part of the storm, we saw a community pool filled to the top with water and a tree. A second, much larger oak tree was laying across the parking lot’s exit and a few cars. Luckily, Binky, our brown 1984 Honda Accord was unscathed and the entrance to the parking lot was still passable. After getting dressed and leashing our first child, Joules, a black lab- dalmatian mix, the three of us climbed over the debris to our car and exited via the entrance on the way to a wedding. Ours.
The majority of our guests were coming in from out of town, which meant they were not coming. The interstates were closed. That is the type of storm we are talking about here.
The ceremony was held at the camp where we met and was officiated by the camp director and the secretary. It was an honor to have the camp director perform the ceremony because he inadvertently brought us together and a blessing to have the secretary because she was a Notary Public and a genuinely good human being.
As Shannon, Joules and I drove down the winding entrance road to the camp, we stopped to watch a power-line that had fallen across a bush. The bush was on fire. We drove on.
At the camp, with snow flakes beginning to fall- let me just refocus your attention on the fact that it was March and we were in Florida- so with the snow flakes beginning to fall along with the icy sleet, and with the wind kicking up waves big enough to crash over the docks, we opted to move our beautiful outdoor wedding into the rec hall. This old building is probably even less glamorous than it sounds to you. However, we’d slow danced during Stairway to Heaven in that building so it wasn’t too heartbreaking for us.
The wind was literally howling outside the rec hall, the lakes had ocean sized waves, and did I mention the burning bush?
These were not the ideal conditions we imagined when we planned our outdoor wedding. It was supposed to be in a wooded amphitheater overlooking two lakes that glitter like bowls full of diamonds in the sun. There was a noticeable lack of flower petals and butterflies floating in the non-existent warm, gentle breezes and the crowds of people we expected were far less crowded than we envisioned.
In front of our collection of brave friends and family, locals mostly, we were married.
Thus began the nineteen years that brings us to today. The years have been very much like the wedding we had on that weird, unexpected day. We may have planned to hitchhike across Europe or nap away the summers in Barbados but the reality was usually quite different from the grandiose plans we made.
This is why we have had such a wonderful couple of decades together so far. Both of us are dreamers who believe that things work out best for people that make the best out of the way things work out.
Life is a blissful miracle filled with wonder and bursting with joy. It is also a messy affair with pain and suffering. Life is both of these extremes and every gradient in between. As mere humans, how are we supposed to be able to plan for a future that is everything we want it to be? We can’t. We don’t.
The trick is to find a spectacular human being that loves you more than you love yourself (no matter how MUCH you love yourself) that is willing to enjoy the ride with you. The ideal candidate will laugh often and cry at the end of Disney movies and Christmas commercials. This person should be willing let you be yourself, no matter how many times you change who you are, while also gently steering you away from the really stupid choices. If you can find this magical unicorn of a spouse, you have hit the jackpot.
No mere Storm of the Century could dampen the spirit of someone that miraculous.